Bay Retriever

S2 9.2C #146

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Rafting Guide

Pentagon Sailing Club


PSC Raft-Up Guidelines



Nothing in these guidelines is intended to supersede or
alter any individual skipper’s responsibility for the safe operation of his or
her vessel.  These guidelines should not be followed if, in a skipper’s opinion,
they would in any way endanger their vessel or crew



Since cruising the Chesapeake Bay in the company of two or
more other boats is a primary activity of the Pentagon Sailing Club (PSC), it
naturally follows that anchoring together or "rafting up" becomes a part of any
cruise, enhancing the social aspects of cruising the Bay.  Appropriately, the
PSC has established rafting procedures to ensure safety and maximum opportunity
to enjoy the event.   The following considerations are important to that end,
and form the basis for the PSC rafting guidelines.


1.  The largest boat of an anticipated raft should be the
anchor boat (given that the boat's ground tackle is appropriately sized for the
purpose).  The skipper of the anchor boat will ordinarily be the "raft
captain".  As such, he/she will make whatever judgement calls are necessary to
ensure a safe operation.  Factors for the raft captain to consider are depth,
swinging room, scope of rode, current, weather, bottom type, boat/ground tackle
combinations, boat sizes, rig/spreader alignment, and adequacy and placement of
fenders and lines.


2.  Unless current, weather, or the raft captain dictate
otherwise, approach the raft from the stern of those already anchored.


3.  Alternate sides when rafting to maintain balance on the


4.  Before joining the raft, prepare your lines and
place fenders or fender boards where you think they will do the most good. 
Adjustments can be made once the vessels are secured.  By custom, the boat
coming into the raft uses its own lines and fenders.  This makes it easier to
sort things out when breaking the raft.  Each boat should have the following:

a.  Bow line.

b.  Stern line.

c.  Forward spring line.

d.  After spring line.

e.  Minimum of two 4-  to 6-inch

f.  A long passing (control) line
if your boat is also to set an anchor.


5.  Place your crew members in position to pass lines and
fend off.  Ensure they are fully briefed. Coordinate with the skipper of the
receiving boat.   Customarily, a looped end of each line is passed to the raft
from your boat; the line is adjusted and secured on your boat.  Be sure that
someone on the raft is prepared to take your line(s) and fend off if necessary.


6.  Once alongside and positioned, ensure all lines are
properly placed and secured, taking particular care to unalign your spreaders
with the boat you have rafted against to avoid possible rig damage in the event
a swell or boat wake should "rock the boats".


7.  With due consideration for conditions, the raft captain
may, at his/her discretion, have the second or third boat on each side place
their own anchors 45 - 60°
to the outside of the primary anchor and forward (windward) of the raft…properly
setting their anchor and maneuvering back into the raft using power and passing
line -- or joining the raft and place the anchor by dinghy.  If using a
multi-anchor setup, the raft captain should consider using a stern anchor from
the primary anchor boat, or from other boats as well depending on the size of
the raft, to keep the raft from swinging and rodes from tangling.  Before doing
so, however, the raft captain should consult predicted weather conditions for
the night.  Being held by a stern anchor in high winds either from the side or
stern may jeopardize the entire raft. 


8.  Should a boat significantly larger than the outboard
boats approach the raft, the raft captain will evaluate the alternatives of
having that vessel anchor separately, set a separate anchor and then maneuver to
the raft, or "slip in" to the existing raft alongside the anchor vessel, keeping
in mind that "slipping in" requires the line crews on the three boats involved
and can be an intricate operation.


9.  Any vessel chartered by the PSC should be anchored or
secured in the raft by sunset (charter company rules for all but season boats). 
Boats arriving in darkness should not expect to join a raft.  The raft captain
and individual skippers should evaluate the conditions before sunset and
determine whether the raft will remain overnight.  All skippers will be prepared
to depart the raft expeditiously should it become necessary. Any skipper who
wants to depart the raft should notify the adjacent boat skipper/s AND the raft
captain.  (Note: Departing the Raft at night would be an exceptional,
safety-driven circumstance for a chartered boat in view of normal charter policy
of sailing only in daylight hours.)


10.  Once secured in the raft, boat etiquette requires

a.  The cockpit should not be
used as a highway between boats.  When transiting     vessels, use the foredeck
forward of the mast if at all possible.  This is particularly important when
those on board are below and/or asleep!  Please respect their privacy.

b.  Unless invited below, the
salon is to be considered private.  Not looking into portholes and hatches is
common courtesy.

c.  Once a crew has retired for
the night, those who wish to remain above and socialize should move to minimize


11.  When leaving a raft under power, ensure your engine is
sufficiently warmed up and ready.  If "falling off", be certain there is
sufficient maneuvering room downwind.  Departing a raft under sail is to be done
only after careful planning and consideration of the conditions.  Executed
properly, this can be an exhilarating way to begin a cruising day.  Executed
poorly it can be a disaster.  In all cases, particularly if slipping out from
between boats, make sure there are people on adjacent boats to handle lines.


Adherence to
these basic guidelines will go a long way toward making our raft-ups as safe and
as enjoyable as possible.  One consideration, however, is that no set of
procedures can replace good common sense.  Raft captains and other skippers must
remain alert at all times and exercise their experience and judgement in
applying these principles.